Date
24 September 2017
Kurdish civilians celebrate after taking control of the Syrian town of Kobani. Photo: Reuters
Kurdish civilians celebrate after taking control of the Syrian town of Kobani. Photo: Reuters

Scores of foreign fighters among Kobani dead

A high number of foreign jihadists were among those killed in the battle for the Syrian town of Kobani, French news agency AFP reported Wednesday, citing a senior United States official.

The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) announced the “liberation” of Kobani on Monday, depriving the self-proclaimed Islamic State of strategic territory to add to its caliphate in Syria and Iraq.

The US officials said Kurdish fighters are now in control of about 90 percent of the town on the Syrian-Turkish border.

But he warned that the militants, also known as ISIL, were “adaptive and resilient” and no-one was declaring “mission accomplished” yet.

“ISIL is now, whether on order or whether they are breaking ranks, is beginning to withdraw from the town,” a senior State Department official told reporters.

The US and some 60 coalition partners is engaged in the “first phase of a multi-year campaign,” he said.

But a victory in Kobani was an important milestone in trying to change “the narrative” of the militants who have attracted thousands of foreign fighters to their ranks, mostly disaffected youth drawn by the promise of adventure.

The radical Islamists had poured some of their best foreign fighters into Kobane but in the past six weeks, the losses had begun to cause splits in the ranks.

The group has executed foreign fighters for refusing orders to deploy to the town.

Observers said the militants lost nearly 1,200 fighters in the battle, of a total of 1,800 killed, despite outgunning YPG forces with sophisticated weaponry captured from Iraqi and Syrian military bases.

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